PADUCAH, KY (KFVS) - Attorney General Andy Beshear visited the Purchase Area Sexual Assault and Child Advocacy Center on Tuesday, September 21.
While there, he talked about working to end the state's sexual assault forensic exam kit backlog.
Beshear was joined by lawmakers, hospital directors and sexual assault nurse examiners in supporting PASAC, prosecutors and law enforcement in the region.
Beshear applauded PASAC advocates and Executive Director Lori Brown for providing lifesaving services in the Purchase region to adults and children who have been victimized by sexual assault, and for the center's commitment to help end the SAFE kit backlog and bring justice to survivors.
"We are grateful to Attorney General Beshear for his commitment to ensure the safety of our community's most vulnerable populations and his leadership to promote the SAFE Act," Brown said. "This legislation is a major step forward in ensuring justice for survivors across the state. PASAC is committed to working with our Purchase area community partners to implement best practices that will ensure the timely analysis of these kits and provide the necessary support for survivors throughout their healing process."
Beshear's Office of Victim Advocacy and his Department of Criminal Investigations are working with the Kentucky Association of Sexual Assault Programs and its 13 rape crisis centers, including PASAC, the Kentucky State Police and local law enforcement and prosecutors to address the backlog and begin to investigate and prosecute the cases in a victim-centered manner.
"One of the proudest moments I have had as attorney general is transferring $4.5 million to the Kentucky State Police crime lab to make sure the backlog never occurs again," Beshear said. "Now my office is taking the next step by partnering with victim advocates and law enforcement across the state to help ensure victims receive the justice they so rightly deserve."
The results of the more than 3,000 backlogged kits are expected to be returning to local police offices across the state in September.
As kit results begin to return, PASAC will work with law enforcement agencies in the cities of Paducah, Murray, Benton and Mayfield, in the counties of McCracken, Marshall, Graves and Calloway along with the Murray State University Police Department and the Kentucky State Police.
Last week Beshear's office hosted the SAFE Summit in partnership with the Sexual Assault Response Team Advisory Committee to train nearly 200 law enforcement officers, prosecutors and victim advocates on how to conduct a victim-centered investigation, examine cold cases, notify victims and prosecute sexual assault offenders.
During the 2016 legislative session, Beshear supported the SAFE Act or Senate Bill 63, which was passed unanimously by lawmakers and directed that all kits be tested. Beshear committed $4.5 million in settlement funds from a lawsuit his office settled to be used for testing of SAFE kits and provided an additional $1 million support the investigation and prosecution of sexual assault cases.
While in Paducah, Beshear also discussed preventing scam alerts.
He said people are being exposed to more scams than ever before in the history of the country, so he launched a transformational tool called "Scam Alert."
It's a direct text scam warning system to where the people can sign up and the Attorney General's Office can send out about one email or one text message a week regarding the newest scam or trending scam.
"If we can get thousands of people signed up in the Commonwealth, not only will they not fall for scams, but they can keep their friends or family members or neighbors falling for scams," Beshear said. "Everyday I show up to one of these seminars that we do, everyone in the room has gotten at least one scam call that day."
Beshear said it's important to use technology to thwart scam efforts.
"We've got to be using technology to protect our people to the same degree that others are trying to use it to prey on them," he said. "And this opportunity to directly provide that information; this is the newest scam, watch out for ransomware, gives us power to not fall for them."
For more information on scam alerts or to sign up, you can click here.